The cold inter-agency rivalry in the ports have again heightened as the duo of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) undermines each other over recent seizure of hard drugs in the ports.
The duo have been ‘fighting’ over who takes the glory for recent seizure of drugs at Lagos ports.
Our correspondent gathered that the two agencies’ rivalry started after the recent appointment of Brigadier General Muhammad Buba Marwa (rtd), as the new Chairman of the NDLEA.
Both the NDLEA and NCS have been accusing each other of not handling recent seizures of some illicit drugs properly, leading to insinuations that officials of the two agencies are working to impress their bosses, leading to the two agencies working against each other.
You will recall that, two weeks ago the NDLEA had gone to the press to announce the interception of 105.2 kg of cocaine wrapped in 40 packets on board a vessel; MV SPAR SCORPIO while discharging wheat at Josepdam at Terminal Tin Can Island port Lagos valued at N32 billion
Following the NDLEA press conference, the Customs at Tin Can Island Port also issued a press statement, stating that NDLEA had gone ahead to declare the seizure without recourse to the Customs
According to the spokesperson; Mr Uche Ejesieme, “during routine discharge of Bulk Sugar at about 11:03hrs on Monday, February 8, 2021, at the Josepdam Terminal, the Terminal Operators noticed two bags of substances in the hopper that is used to discharge sugar from the Vessel into waiting trucks in the Terminal.
“The bags were recovered by the Terminal Security Operatives who now invited the PSO to the Port Manager to report the developments, without recourse to the Customs.
Affirming that the NDLEA no longer recourse to Customs as to interception of illicit drugs, he added at that time that, “however, we understand that the substances have been handed over to the NDLEA. In this circumstance, it is only the NDLEA that can give further details on this issue,”
Also, last week the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency also announced the interception of a container load of Tramadol at the Apapa seaport in Lagos, a day before the Apapa customs announced its own seizure.
While seeking information as to why the two agencies are not working together, a reliable source informed our correspondent that the cold war started among the two agencies when the Customs Apapa command refused to give credit to the NDLEA over the interception of export container concealed with 162 sacks of pangolin scales weighing 8,800 kg and 57 sacks of mixed endangered species of various sizes such as Ivory/animal horns, lion bones and others destined for Haiphong in Vietnam.
The source who pleaded anonymity confirmed to our correspondent that the Customs intercepted the pangolin and lion bones through the intelligent report of the NDLEA, but noted that Customs however having received the information in its press statement failed to give credit to the NDLEA regarding the seizure.
He also alleged that the interception of the pangolin scales and lion bones at the Apapa port led to the promotion of the former Controller of Apapa Customs Command, Comptroller Muhammed Abba Kura.
While stating that NDLEA having noticed that Customs used its intelligent reports to get promotions decided not to give intelligence report anymore.
The source also disclosed that the NDLEA had got wind of the tramadol through the UK Border intelligence before the NCS got knowledge of it.
According to him, “the two agencies are no longer working together because the officials of the two agencies want to impress their boss, but I will blame the customs, because they have always been taking the glory for themselves without given credit to who gave them the information.
“It was not always like this, I was with their (NDLEA) boss, at Apapa here last week, who lamented seriously how Customs will always run to the press to announce seizure of products they know nothing about”.
He alleged that, the NDLEA actually gave the customs intelligent report about the pangolin scale and the lion bones that led to the promotion of Abba Kura, they were three shortlisted for that position but after the seizure they picked Abba Kura, so they are not happy that Customs is taking their (NDLEA) glory and getting promotion without giving credit to them
“So they decided to cut them out when they have intelligence report about a container and that was what happened during the seizure of cocaine at Tin Can, they beat Customs to it, and the same thing happened at Apapa, they always get their information before the Customs, because anything that has to do with drugs, they have better intelligence report on it. They get their information from UK border intelligence and why should they even report to the Customs who uses the information for their self-promotion”.
“Remember they have a new head and they too are seeking promotion, they want to impress their boss too” he said.